The third and final phase of the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Twenty20's fourth edition will start on Friday in Mirpur’s Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium. The top two teams of the points table – Rangpur Riders and Khulna Titans - will face Rajshahi Kings and Barisal Bulls respectively.
Rangpur have played dominant cricket this season, losing just once in their six matches. They will face Rajshahi in the day game. Rangpur spinners are in good rhythm and will definitely eye another solid display against Rajshahi.
Local spinners Sohag Gazi and Arafat Sunny are providing constant breakthroughs during their spells and their experienced foreign recruit Shahid Afridi is also bowling very well in the middle periods of an innings.
All three spinners have bowled economically so far and have taken key wickets. Afridi has bagged 11 wickets with an economy rate of 5.43 while Gazi has grabbed nine wickets with an economy rate of 5.55. However, it was learned that Afridi will be unavailable for Friday's game. He will join the side after the Rajshahi clash.
The one thing Rangpur will be hoping for is the return to form of opening batsman Soumya Sarkar. The dashing left-hander is having a poor tournament with the bat and will be desperate to score significantly to finally make his mark in the tournament.
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Rajshahi's Sammy takes a selfie alongside his team mates DHAKA TRIBUNE
In contrast, Rajshahi have only managed two wins from their six matches. They have suffered defeats in a couple of close matches where they were in a winning position but eventually lost the game. They will surely try to avoid repeating such mistakes in close encounters as the tournament enters its business stages.
Opener Mominul Haque and all-rounder Samit Patel are in good touch and Rajshahi will be looking to capitalise on their form. Besides the in-form Mominul and Samit, Rajshahi will hope their star local player Sabbir Rahman scores some big runs, much like his magnificent hundred against Barisal in the first phase.
Khulna, second in the points table, are playing impressive cricket right from the start of the tournament, clinching five wins in seven games. They will play Barisal in the evening match.
Although Khulna are second, their batting remains a big concern at the moment. Captain Mahmudullah played some useful innings but all the other batsmen, both local and foreigners, have failed to score big in the tournament so far.
However, Khulna's bowling unit are performing very well. And their Pakistan paceman Junaid Khan has vowed to continue their good bowling performance in the next match as well.
“We are confident that we can show a good performance as a team in the next match. We have a good combination of bowlers. Kevon Cooper, Mosharraf [Hossain] Rubel and myself are bowling well. I hope this will continue,” Junaid told the media after practice in Mirpur on Thursday.
On the other hand, Barisal made a good start in the tournament by winning three out of four matches in the first phase. But they lost the momentum during the Chittagong phase where they lost all three games. So they will be desperate to return to winning ways against Khulna.
Rangpur Riders v Rajshahi Kings, 1:30pm
Barisal Bulls v Khulna Titans, 6:15pm
Both games will be held at SBNS, Mirpur
M W L Pts
6 5 1 10
7 5 2 10
7 4 3 8
8 4 4 8
7 3 4 6
6 2 4 4
7 1 6 2